2014 Kia Forte5 First Impressions

San Diego, CA — Kia’s still hard at work capturing consumer’s hard-earned attention. For a while, every new model released would garner much attention from both the automotive media and car shoppers alike. Then, little happened. Just as the wind seemed to leave the Korean company’s sails, they’ve returned with a pair of compact cars that they hope will reignite the fire that once burned.

The 2014 Forte5 and Forte Koup are important players is this country’s key segment. As a pair of compact cars, they stand a good chance of boosting traffic in dealership showrooms.

The 2014 Kia Forte5 has everything going for it from its handsome good looks to its jam-packed content-laden cabin. To boot, the drive is beyond pleasant, with plenty of comfort pulled from its otherwise competent chassis. Its biggest problem is the competition.

What is a Kia Forte5?

The 2014 Forte5 is the 5-door hatchback version of the compact Forte sedan. The Forte replaced the Spectra and Spectra5 a few years back and has now been refreshed for the first time since its introduction in 2010.

The Forte5, along with the other Fortes, is aimed at a youthful buyer who has equal parts family and activities on his or her mind. Kia garnered a fair amount of success by offering itself as the young brand for the young buyer.

2014 Kia Forte5 Price and Specs

The basic 2014 Forte5 LX+ retails for $19,495. The EX packaged car goes for $22,285 while the top of the line SX comes in at $23,795.

The LX and EX cars feature a 173-horsepower 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. The SX versions are spoiled by a turbocharged 1.6L 4-pot that develops 201 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. This is the same mill that powers the Veloster Turbo.

Transmission selections reside between a 6-speed manual and automatic. Depending on trim, Kia’s adjustable FlexSteer is available for the electric power rack and pinion. Brakes are 4-wheel discs, slightly larger on the sportier SX trim, and the suspension is fully independent, and sport-tuned on the SX.

Driving the 2014 Kia Forte5

With very little time, two body-styles, two engines and two transmissions, it was difficult to get a sufficient amount of seat time in all configurations. My driving partner and I set off in an LX+ with the 6-speed manual transmission.

The first comment comes from throwing the shifter into 1st and releasing the clutch. Long gone is the sloppy, loose-feeling left pedal and random vague gate. Working through the gears can be fun, however, it’s not exactly a sporting event.

The 2.0L may have more power on paper over its competitors; however, I was hard-pressed to really notice the extra 18 horsepower over the Mazda3’s 2.0L. Even so, the 2014 Forte5 trudges forward with sufficient authority to keep the driving experience lively. Keeping engine revs high — above the 4,000 rpm mark — is best for maximum pleasure.

The ride veers more towards smooth operation than road grabbing, which greatly aids for daily commute duty. Even so, the 2014 Forte5 handles very well, with only a minimum amount of body roll. The electrically assisted power steering is sharp without being sporty either with only a tad of on-centre play, and the brakes are more than up to the task.

Inside and Out of the 2014 Kia Forte5

Kia has done very well for its outward image over the last five years or so with its constant reinventing. The 2014 Kia Forte5 is one of the latest cars to benefit from the brand’s sporty and youthful design language.

Much like the Forte sedan, the Forte5 gains boldness and a little attitude with its broader and wider-looking front end. The true kickers are the available Xenon high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights and LED taillights. Creases and character lines throughout the car’s body greatly aid in making the car attractive. The dual-exhaust tailpipes and specific wheels of the SX take it all a notch further.

The 2014 Kia Forte5’s cabin is quite well-crafted. If a little bland colour-wise, its ergonomics are still spot on as is its presentation. As always, it’s the content onboard that really deserves written lines. Heated front seats are standard on all trims and heated rear seats are available as is a heated steering wheel. Bluetooth and satellite radio are included while navigation, leather, a cooled glove box and push-button start are all on the menu somewhere.

The cabin is decently roomy and the seats provide a fair level of comfort. The trunk is appreciably capacious for family or friend outings. And lastly, the car remains tolerably quiet even at highway speeds.

Comparing the 2014 Kia Forte5

Playing ball in the compact car segment skill. If value, design, fuel efficiency and a good drive are not in the offered car’s make-up, then it’ll never sell. The biggest thorn in the 2014 Kia Forte5’s side is fuel economy as, on paper, it has some of the worse numbers of its segment.

With the likes of the Mazda3 Sport, Elantra GT and Focus hatchback, the Forte5 has its work cut out for it.